Hungary has become the first country in the European Union to give preliminary approval to the Russian coronavirus vaccine, Sputnik V. On Thursday, Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff confirmed both the Russian jab and the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine had been given the green light by the health authorities. Early results from trials of the Sputnik vaccine have shown promising results.
President Joe Biden launched initiatives on Thursday to rein in the raging COVID-19 pandemic, tackling his top priority on his first full day in the White House as he tries to turn the page on Donald Trump’s tumultuous leadership. His administration plans a coordinated federal coronavirus response aimed at restoring trust in the government and focused on boosting vaccines, increasing testing, reopening schools and addressing inequalities thrown up by the disease.
At least 32 people have died and dozens more are wounded after a double suicide attack in Iraq’s capital. According to police in Baghdad, the explosions hit a commercial area in the centre of the city. Many of the wounded – of which there are at least 73 – are reported to be in a serious condition and there was widespread damage to buildings.
A near-yearlong row about the UK’s refusal to grant full diplomatic status of the EU mission to the UK has worsened, with the leak of letters revealing the EU foreign affairs chief has serious concerns about the status being given to EU officials in the UK. The Foreign Office says it would set a precedent by treating an international body in the same way as a nation state.
Amazon has extended an offer to President Joe Biden to assist with the national distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, a move that could expedite the federal effort to combat the pandemic. Dave Clark, the CEO of Amazon’s consumer business, and one of the company’s highest-ranking executives, sent a letter to the president shortly after the inauguration Wednesday.